The use of an internet-based ask the doctor service involving family physicians: evaluation by a web survey
2006 (English)In: Family Practice, ISSN 0263-2136, E-ISSN 1460-2229, Vol. 23, no 2, 159-166 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
BACKGROUND: Internet consultation without a previous relationship between the doctor and the enquirer seems to be increasing in popularity. However, little is known about the advantages, disadvantages or other differences compared with regular health care when using this kind of service. OBJECTIVE: To investigate how an Internet-based Ask the Doctor service out with any pre-existing doctor-patient relationship was used and evaluated by the enquirers. METHODS: We recruited to a web-based survey users of the non-commercial Swedish Internet-based Ask the Doctor service run by family physicians. The survey was conducted between November 2001 and January 2002. Questions included both multiple choice and free text formats, and the results were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. RESULTS: The survey was completed by 1223 participants. It was mainly women who submitted questions to the service (29% men, 71% women) and also who participated in the survey (26% men, 74% women). Most participants (77%) wrote their question at home, and 80% asked on their own behalf. Almost half of the enquiries (45%) concerned a medical matter that had not been evaluated by a medical professional before. After reading the answer, 43% of the participants indicated that they would not pursue their question further having received sufficient information in the answer provided. The service was appreciated for its convenience and flexibility, but also for reasons to do with the mode of communication such as the ability to reflect on the written answer without having to hurry and to read it more than once. CONCLUSION: In the present study, we found that an Internet-based Ask the Doctor service run by family physicians on the whole was evaluated positively by the participants both in terms of the answers and the service. Internet-based consultation may act as a complement to regular health care. In future studies, the cost-effectiveness, patient security, responsibilities of the Internet doctor and the role of Ask the Doctor services compared with regular health care should be evaluated.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 23, no 2, 159-166 p.
Access to Information, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Child, Data Collection, Female, Humans, Internet, Male, Middle Aged, Physician-Patient Relations, Physicians; Family, Remote Consultation/*utilization, Sweden
Family Medicine Other Medical Engineering Computer Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-6319DOI: 10.1093/fampra/cmi117PubMedID: 16464871OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-6319DiVA: diva2:145988